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Northern Ireland - Challenging an Employment and Support Allowance decision - Appeal against the decision

Find out more about challenging an Employment and Support Allowance decision in Northern Ireland.

Appeal against the decision

An appeal is a way of telling the benefit office that you think a decision is wrong.

When you appeal a decision, it will be looked at by an independent tribunal which is completely separate from the benefit office.

Action

You must make your appeal in writing.

If you appeal on the official appeal form this can help you to give all the information that is needed.

The leaflet ‘If you think our decision is wrong’ will tell you how to start you appeal and includes a copy of the appeal form.

Download a copy of the appeal leaflet and form:
Benefits and Tax Credits appeal form (Northern Ireland)

Pick up a copy of the appeal leaflet and form from your local Jobcentre or your local Jobs and Benefits Office(link opens in a new window), or
Write to the benefit office using the address on your decision letter. 

If you can't get hold of the official appeal form, make sure you include the following details in your letter:

  • Your name and contact address

  • Your national insurance number

  • The date of the decision you are appealing against

  • The decision you are appealing against

  • Why you think the decision is wrong

  • Your signature.

If you don't include all these details, your appeal form may have to be returned to you.

Time limit

You have one calendar month from the date of the decision. The date will be shown at the top of your decision letter.

You may get longer if you ask for an explanation of the decision to be sent to you.

If you ask for the decision to be looked at again before you appeal, you have one month from the date of your most recent decision.

Late appeal

 

If you missed the appeal deadline for reasons out of your control, such as illness or bereavement, you may be given more time to appeal.

When you contact the benefit office, you should explain why you missed the deadline including details of any special circumstances that prevented you contacting them in time.

If the benefit office doesn’t think you have a good reason for appealing late, they will pass your request to the Tribunal Service who will decide if your appeal can be accepted or if it is too late to be heard.

An appeal can’t be accepted if it is 13 months or more since the date of the decision

Possible outcomes

Look again at the decision

 

If they haven’t already, a different decision maker will look at the decision and decide whether it should be changed.

If they decide that they can’t change the original decision, your appeal will carry on.

If they decide that the original decision is wrong, they will change the decision and send you a new decision letter:

If the new decision makes you better off your appeal will stop. You can appeal this new decision if you think it is wrong.

If the new decision does not make you better off, your appeal will carry on, but now it will be against the new decision. Send appeal on to Appeals Service.

If your appeal carries on, your appeal form will be sent to the Appeals Service, who run the First Tier Tribunal.

The benefit office will also include their response. This explains:

  • How they came to their decision

  • What information they used

  • What benefit law they based their decision on.

The First Tier Tribunal

The First Tier Tribunal will decide if you are legally entitled to a benefit and can change a decision if they think it is wrong.

Important

The tribunal could make a decision that leaves you worse off so it is often best to seek advice before deciding whether to appeal.

The tribunal cannot:

  • Change the law

  • Deal with administrative complaints, like delay or poor service

See our guide Complaints about your claim

Consider changes of circumstances which have taken place since the decision was made - you may be able to make a new benefit or tax credit claim.

For information about what happens when your appeal is received by the Appeals Service, see Turn2us information on First Tier Tribunal Appeals.

Benefits whilst appealing an ESA decision

If you appeal against an ESA decision, you can ask to be paid ESA whilst you await the decision. You don't need to make a fresh claim for ESA. 

You must continue to provide medical certificates (fit notes) whilst you are getting ESA.

If you have backdated medical certificates (fit notes) to cover the mandatory reconsideration period, then ESA can be paid for that period as well. This doesn't apply if you claimed another benefit such as Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support during the reconsideration period so received an equivalent amount of benefit.

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